The True Crime Files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Rediscovered by Stephen Hines
With an Introduction By Steven Womack
Berkley Prime Crime
The True Crime Files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was an interesting project. Literary prospector Stephen Hines brought the project to me when he discovered two long-lost, out-of-print true crime books written by the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Together, we co-edited the project and I wrote about a 16,000 word mini-biography of Doyle. Rather than quote from the book, here’s what Amazon.com had to say:
It might come as no surprise that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, after creating the first world-renowned fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, started to believe that he could solve real-life crimes. What is surprising is that Doyle was sometimes successful. While the muscular, mustachioed author and his thin, hawk-nosed character would never have been mistaken for one another, they did share an abhorrence for injustice. And Doyle’s association as a student with a medical professor named Joseph Bell—who, through close observation, could deduce extraordinary amounts of information from his patients—gave him both a model for the brilliant Holmes and an appreciation for careful forensic methodology.
The True Crime Files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle focuses on a couple of curious British cases, both involving men Doyle believed were innocent. The first, which drew Doyle’s attention in 1906, involved a shy half-British, half-Indian lawyer named George Edalji, who’d allegedly penned threatening letters and mutilated animals. Police were dead set on Edalji’s guilt, though the mutilations continued even after their suspect was jailed. The second case examined here–that of Oscar Slater, a German Jew and gambling-den operator convicted of bludgeoning an 82-year-old woman in 1908–excited Doyle’s curiosity because of inconsistencies in the prosecution case and a general sense that Slater was framed.
Editor Stephen Hines has compiled Doyle’s passionate writings about these criminal probes as well as myriad missives to the press and other background material. This accumulation of arcana will delight passionate Doyle fans, though it’s probably too much for the average reader, who may be satisfied with Steven Womack’s introductory synopsis.
Berkley Prime Crime published the The True Crime Files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in both a really nice hardcover edition and a trade paperback. You can find them at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble:
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